Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Giants: Anatomy of a few plays

It's always interesting to break down a few plays in detail and understand some of the subtleties of the game.

On the Giants first possession they ran several interesting plays. They threw one screen pass to Bradshaw for 15 yards and a few plays later, were looking at 3rd and 3 from the Redskins 9 yard line. The first screen was a quick developing one, did not have the qb dropping back and lofting the ball over the heads of onrushing linemen. It was out in the left flat with Diehl and Seubert leading downfield. The 3rd and 3 play however, was a middle screen, which is much more difficult for the defense to diagnose. DL-men are taught to recognize a screen by seeing with their peripheral vision, the OL-men floating out to the flat to block for the RB. Instead of continuing their forward rush to the qb, the DL-men peel back to try to get the RB. In the middle screen, however, OL-men stay right where they are so the DL-men can not key on the OL movements to smell out the screen. The reason that the middle screen is not used all the time is that it is a little harder to execute. First, the middle of the field is more crowded and it is easier for defenders to give help and swarm to the ball. Second, the timing of the play is more difficult and has to be precise. If the C and the G move downfield too early, before the ball is thrown by the qb, the offense is penalized for ineligible receiver down field. But if they can get the timing right, it can be very effective, because it is more deceptive and harder for the defense to read. On looking at the play again, I am actually not entirely sure that C O'Hara did not leave too early, but he did not get the flag. Nevertheless, it was a very effective play and Bradshaw got down to the 2 yard line.

Giants then ran two running plays which went nowhere and had a 3rd and goal from the 3 yard line. The Giants brought in 3 WRs, Eli lined up in shotgun and the Giants ran a draw play to the right, between the RG and RT. The interesting part of this play was the action of the OL. On a draw play, you want to convince the defense that you are passing, get the DL-men to rush forward and the rest of the defense to drop back into coverage. But if the OL drives forward in run blocking mode, the defense can easily read that the play is a run rather than a pass. On this play, RT Beatty stood up and retreated as if pass blocking. The LDE he was facing took the bait and started to rush up field towards the qb leaving a space inside of him, to his right. The left side of the OL moved diagonally to their right. Seubert, from his LG position sealed the LB, O'Hara had a block on the DT and Snee had an easy block on the LB and the DB. Bradshaw scored comfortably on the play.

The third play that is interesting to look at was the 45 yard pass play from Manning to Nicks. The route was a deep in cut, with Nicks running down field about 15 or 20 yards. The S read the route and drove hard upfield, heading either for the ball or for a collision with Nicks when the ball arrived. Nicks sensed this and instead of cutting directly across the field, came back for the ball about a yard or two, allowing him to make a clean catch on the ball. The S still had a bead on Nicks but he arced back a little further towards the qb, let the S run past him then cut upfield and added about 20 yards on to the end of the catch. Nicks is going to be a star. He is fast, big, has quick feet and is a very smart, polished WR. It seems like every game he makes a big play and many of them are of his own making, with yards after the catch.

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